Wednesday, 13 October 2010

White Ravens by Owen Sheers

Re-imagining Myth
review by Maryom

Owen Sheers brings a contemporary twist to the ancient Welsh tale of Branwen, daughter of Llyr with two different, but entwined, stories, one set in the present day, one during WW2.
Rhian and her two brothers live on a remote Welsh hill farm, the family's home for generations, but following an outbreak of foot and mouth the brothers decide to set up in a different line of business - one they feel is less effort and more lucrative.
Matthew O'Connell is sent on a secret wartime mission to bring 6 raven chicks from a remote Welsh farm to the Tower of London but is unwittingly bringing tragedy with him.

This book is part of a series from Seren Books - New Stories from the Mabinogion - though there's no need for any prior knowledge of Welsh myth to enjoy this story- it's gripping enough and perfectly capable of being read as a stand alone story.
I was drawn in by Sheers' storytelling skills, his ability to tell part of the tale from a woman's perspective, to give Rhian a voice and let her speak. White Ravens is very much a story set in the real, everyday world, not a magical, fantasy tale but, in the way of myth, the characters are drawn powerlessly along towards their inescapable fate. Although this is a story about men torn apart by violence and bloodshed, of men who release their torment and rage on the people and animals around them, it also offers the possibility of ending the vicious circle they find themselves caught in.

Warning - there is a certain level of violence against animals in this book that some readers may find distressing.

Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - Seren Books

Genre - Adult Literary Fiction

Buy White Ravens (New Stories from the Mabinogion) from Amazon


  1. Oh my gosh - I love welsh mythology obviously. I have so got to get this. Thanks for the great review :D

  2. Two more stories in this series published this month. See the link for details
    Personally I can't wait to read the Meat Tree, a retelling of the Blodeuwedd tale that Alan Garner used in The Owl Service.